2005, the way home: day 1

On 24 May 2005 I left Mojave, California on an indirect, two- or three-week journey back to Illinois. I want to commemorate it—without judgment, without nostalgia. I can still see, without intentionally recalling, flashes of what I saw on the road. Coincidentally, it aligns with some of the earliest posts on this site, so I'll link back to them [1].

For reasons beyond my ken, I can strap myself into an automobile or a pair of shoes and wander without seeing anything of value—to other people, at least. I can tune into it just fine. Grass and rocks and highway all the way. There's something else there—there's a feeling. I don't know exactly what it is, but I'm curious about what it is, but at the same time I don't want to kill the magic by figuring it out—and then one day we evaporate like magic and there is no magic anymore. Selah.

So—

Find a spot in my gold 2003 Pontiac Grand Am [2] among the bags and camping gear. It's a long slow trip from the moon to the heartland.


Original post: 2005-05-24: Return from Mojave, Day 1

I left a little early from the summer internship with the X PRIZE Foundation in Mojave. We were building replicas of SpaceShipOne using the original tooling from Scaled Composites there in Building 51 at the airport. So, the starting point of this journey is Graziano's Pizza (which closed in 2011—so, 16870 Highway 14, Mojave, CA). Do I remember much of that lunch? No. But I know that Fernando and Brooke aren't with us anymore. I don't know what to say about that. The people who go before you, but shouldn't go before you, are some kind of memento mori. Remember: one day you will also die. Fernando lives on in our memories. Brooke lives on in the Brooke Owens Fellowship

I'll tell you what I remember of that day: the right music at the right time.

There, pointed north on CA-58, and then west, in that scrub of creosote bushes and sand and wind turbines, ready to head up through Tehachapi and north through the Central Valley—put in the right music, the music that fits the moment, whether intended to reverberate across all these years or not:

Beck, "The Golden Age", Sea Change (2002)

Put your hands on the wheel
Let the golden age begin

So, listen—the choice of music was 100% on the mark. Driving north through the valley? Maybe the only wrong note on the entire trip. Knowing now what I wish I would have known then, I would have driven up US-395, the same road I drive in my dreams now. But I didn't know then, and opted for the fast route. But where was I headed? I didn't know. I drove north a ways, then I decided at Sacramento to drive east a ways. Up in the mountains, east of Sacramento on I-80 in May in a heavy precipitation year, it was still partially under snow, not all that suitable for camping in May. So I ended up in Nevada.

Listen—

I'm OK with growing up. I mean, the pay's better, right? If there's anything I miss of the old times, other than the people, it's the freedom to just move. Where? Wherever. Justify what? No boss, no wife, no voice of reason. A vision quest—a lunatic fringe. I don't miss that now—I mean, I don't want to do it now, although I love to think about it. To evolve from that stage of life to this stage is fine—if you have principles. If you ask me now if I want to drive three weeks across the country, and if you ask me then if I want to spend my time planting a garden, you'll get the same answer. No. Same person, different times. But. Is that change abrupt? Is that change hypocritical or incompatible? No, I don't think so. But, yes, sometimes. You travel through time and you travel through space and—hey presto—there you were, here you are.


[1] This site, kirkkittell.com, dates back to... 2007? But it incorporates some other sites and blogs from before that time. Unfortunately—fortunately—not all of them. Some of them are lost to the sands of time. Lucky break.

[2] A gift from my parents—thank you. They don't make 'em like that anymore because... well, Pontiac doesn't make anything anymore. It just occurred to me that this car had its own nickname, from a spontaneous trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras conceived in Murphy's Pub in Urbana, the source of all good ideas. The name? Coffin on Wheels. Hey. I mean. It's just that. Well. It fit.

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